HK columnist slammed over ‘servant’ remark
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:59:00 03/30/2009
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 2) Malacañang led the protest against a remark by a Hong Kong journalist that the Philippines was a “nation of servants.”
Malacañang decried as “reprehensible” an article by Chip Tsao which claimed that the Philippines had no right to assert its claim over the Spratly Islands, after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the controversial baselines bill into law, which established the country’s claim to the reportedly oil-rich territory.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, however, could not immediately say if the government would take action against the Chip Tsao, saying, “We will look into that because we should not be provoked by one columnist.”
“Reprehensible iyang ginawa ng mamamahayag na iyan. Tingnan natin kung ano ang dapat nating gawin diyan [What that writer did was reprehensible. Let’s see what needs to be done],” Remonde told radio station dwIZ.
In his column published on HK Magazine Online last March 27, Tsao protested the Philippines’ assertion of sovereignty on the Spratly Islands, which he said, “belonged to China.”
“As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter,” Tsao said, as he pointed out that 130,000 Filipinas were working on “cheap” wages in Hong Kong as domestic workers.
Cebu Representative Antonio Cuenco, chairman of the committee on foreign affairs at the House of Representatives, said that the Philippines should send a note verbale to Hong Kong to convey its displeasure with the article, notwithstanding its attempt to be satirical.
“We should not let it pass. I will ask Secretary [Alberto] Romulo to send a protest, a note verbale,” Cuenco said in a phone interview.
He added that even if Tsao meant to be satirical, the lawmaker said “it should not be at our expense.”
He also said there was also much about Hong Kong that should be criticized.
Meanwhile, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, United Opposition president, said Filipinos must demand an apology not only from the writer but also from Arroyo whom the local executive blamed for the low regard against Filipinas.
“By all means, let us demand an apology from Chip Tsao. But we must also demand an apology from the Arroyo administration for giving no options for our women,” Binay said in a statement Monday.
“Because of the administration’s failed employment policies, a record number of Filipino women have been forced to seek jobs abroad to make ends meet,” Binay said, noting that professionals have resorted to becoming domestic helpers for lack of opportunities in the country.
Binay said programs like “Super Maids” – a program by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to produce “world-class and professional domestic helpers” – only worsened other country’s perception of the Philippines as a nation of domestic helpers.
Tsao said he “summoned” his Filipina maid, Louisa, whom he said has a degree in international politics from the “University of Manila,” and told her that if she wanted a salary adjustment, she should tell her fellow maids that the Spratlys belonged to China.
For his part, Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon said Tsao “went too far.”
“Instead of insulting a policy, he insulted a nation,” Biazon said.
But he said the Philippines should spare itself the trouble of a making a diplomatic protest, since the talent of the country’s foreign service would be wasted by paying attention to Tsao.
“But I think we should declare him persona non-grata,” he added.
Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian, vice chair of the House Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs, added Tsao should issue a public apology for his defamatory remarks, especially against the Filipina domestic helpers.
Gatchalian said the hardworking Filipina workers should be spared from attacks and added that Tsao should not be looking down on developing countries, especially since China was once in that state.
Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza railed at Tsao’s column, but said the Philippine government was responsible for such an image because of its policy of sending people to find jobs abroad due to its failure to guarantee them any employment at home.
“Although the export labor policy of the government as a response to unemployment here has systematically driven Filipinos abroad and which is also to blame for this image, such is not an excuse for that racist slur,” she said.
Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said Filipinos should also be angry at the government.
“The anger should be aimed at the government, specifically at Gloria for having made us a country of servants,” she said.
In October last year, producers of the US television show “Desperate Housewives” and television network ABC apologized for a racial slur against Filipino medical workers in one of its episodes.
With reports from Thea Alberto, INQUIRER.net; Leila Salaverria, Inquirer
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